In Memoriam

Nuno P. Monteiro, associate professor of political science

Monteiro was an expert in international relations theory and security studies, was known for his intellectual rigor, compassionate nature, and friendly spirit.
Nuno P. Monteiro
Nuno P. Monteiro

Nuno P. Monteiro, associate professor of political science, died on May 5.

Monteiro was an expert in international relations theory and security studies. He was known among his colleagues and students for his intellectual rigor, compassionate nature, and friendly spirit. 

Nuno was a gifted and devoted teacher and mentor to undergraduate and graduate students alike,” said Gregory Huber, chair of the Department of Political Science. “Additionally, he was a serious and forceful academic who took deep pride in the art and craft of research, reading, and engaging widely. His work and insights deepened our knowledge of complex problems within international relations, including nuclear proliferation, in the complex post-Cold War world. We will all miss his insights, rigor, and deep sense of humor.”

The author of two books and numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, Monteiro directed the university’s International Security Studies program from 2017 to 2020. He was a research fellow at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. His research explored questions related to the threat and use of military force, the role of power in inter-state relations, and the historical evolution of the global system.

His first book, “Theory of Unipolar Politics” (Cambridge University Press, 2014), sought to provide the first coherent theory to explain unipolarity, the condition in international politics when a single state wields unrivaled cultural, economic, and military influence. It investigated whether a world dominated by a single power can last and whether it will generate incentives for peace or frequent conflict. 

His second book, “Nuclear Politics: The Strategic Causes of Proliferation” (Cambridge University Press, 2016), which he coauthored with Yale political scientist Alexandre Debs, explores why certain states have acquired nuclear weapons while others, which seemingly would benefit from possessing them, have not. The work combined game theory with a detailed historical analysis to define the strategic circumstances under which a state is most likely to seek and acquire nuclear weapons.

Nuno was a brilliant scholar, and a generous colleague and mentor,” said Debs, an associate profess of political science. “I learned so much from him. He was ambitious in his scholarship and he loved a good debate. While other scholars worried about the policy implications of their work, he thought of teaching, and teaching at Yale especially, as the best conduit for policy impact, by shaping the minds of future leaders.”

Monteiro possessed an uncanny sense of humor and a vast general knowledge that covered topics from world history to European shoes. He enjoyed hosting parties where he’d serve his guests elaborate dinners, Debs said. 

He left his mark on the Department of Political Science and the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, where he was a faculty member, Debs noted. 

Monteiro’s scholarly articles have appeared in the Annual Review of Political Science, International Organization, International Security, International Theory, and Perspectives on Politics. A recent article he co-wrote with Debs in the Journal of Politics examined when war is waged for economic reasons. 

In addition to his scholarly work, his commentary on world events appeared in numerous publications, including Foreign Affairs, the Guardian, The National Interest, Project Syndicate, and USA Today.

In the fall, he taught “Approaches to International Security,” a required course for the Global Affairs major that probed the central topics in the field of international security with a focus on the principle human-made threats to security.

Monteiro earned his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 2009. A native of Portugal, he received a B.A. in international relations from the University of Minho in 1997.

Monteiro is survived by his wife and two young children. 

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